When social networking giant Facebook bought virtual reality (VR) specialist Oculus VR for $2 billion USD last year, the pair understandably kept their distance from each other. This wasn’t a response to the initial negative feedback so much as the desire to demonstrate that the former won’t be radically changing the latter’s plans for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). A year and a half on from the announcement, however, and Facebook and Oculus VR are much more closely connected with the former’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently taking to the stage at the Oculus Connect 2 developer conference in September.
In fact, Zuckerberg has been much more open about talking up Oculus VR in recent months, and recently labelled the company’s Toybox demo for its Oculus Touch controllers as the ‘craziest’ experience he’s had with the tech. “The craziest Oculus experience I’ve had recently is playing ping pong in virtual reality,” Zuckerberg noted in a Facebook video with one of this week’s two new Toybox videos attached. “You feel like you’re right there with your friend even though they may be halfway around the world. And not only can you hit the ball back and forth, but you can turn gravity up and down to simulate completely different worlds — outer space, under water and so on.
“In our new Toybox experience, you can pick up objects, build things and play games. This video shows a few examples of what’s possible. What’s really amazing is sharing these experiences with your friends. We’re getting closer.”
The last sentence likely refers to the VR dream as a whole, but it’s also interesting to pick up on Zuckerberg’s emphasis of the social aspect of Toybox. The experience does indeed allow 2 avatars to communicate over voice chat as well as use Oculus Touch’s gesture recognition technology to point and give thumbs ups. Players can even pass each other objects as well as play ping pong as the CEO mentioned.
VRFocus will continue to follow Oculus VR and Facebook’s work with the Oculus Rift, reporting back with the latest updates from the companies.